Mazda is a big fan of bold claims, few of which it has yet to deliver. The Hiroshima-based automaker’s groundbreaking SkyActiv-X engine hasn’t even made it to production, but already there are plans to develop a gasoline engine that the company believes will be as clean as an electric vehicle – at least in the sense of an EV’s supply chain of energy creation.

According to Automotive News, Mazda’s powertrain chief revealed the plan during an automotive technical conference in Tokyo, and is planning on calling it SkyActiv-3. The nomenclature is an indication that Mazda is working on its third-generation of SkyActiv high-compression engines.

The first-generation SkyActiv-G engines debuted in 2011, and the second-generation SkyActiv-X will only reach the market in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. After that, Mazda will prioritise boosting the thermal efficiency of its engines, said Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s managing executive officer in charge of powertrain. Doing so reduces the amount of combustion energy lost to heat while increasing the amount harnessed to power the wheels.

If Mazda can increase the thermal efficiency of its SkyActiv-3 engine by about 27% to 56%, then its emissions will be on par with an EV, Hitomi said. For reference, Toyota’s Dynamic Force Engines boast a thermal efficiency of 40% when used in petrol-powered vehicles and 41% when used in hybrid vehicles.

With SkyActiv-3, Mazda is comparing the well-to-wheel emission of its future engine against an EV, where its measurement takes into account the carbon dioxide emitted from producing the electricity which powers an EV. For internal combustion engine vehicles, it calculates emissions from the extraction of oil and refining of gasoline.

In fact, Mazda’s calculations show that once all activity (energy creation included) is measured, some EVs are dirtier than some existing fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered cars. Mazda believes it can cut CO2 emissions by 25% – this will give Mazda’s gasoline engines real world well-to-wheel fuel economy that’s comparable to EVs that derive their electricity through the burning of liquefied natural gas, Hitomi added.

While Hitomi did not specify a timeline for the SkyActiv-3 technology, he said it would prolong the life of the internal combustion engine in this era of electrification. Thoughts, anyone?